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July/August 2001

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
The Swing Album
Valley Entertainment

Though the recent swing "revival" may be petering off, a handful of purists are still out there keeping the juke joints jumpin'. One such artist is former Squeeze member and BBC TV host Jools Holland, who along with his 12-piece Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, has been doing the swing thing in Europe for more than a decade. A compilation of highlights from four of Holland's previous European releases, The Swing Album captures the raw energy of the band's live performances for one thrilling good time. Holland himself is a force of nature on the keys, whether it's the pure can't-catch-your-breath speed of his work on Count Basie-associated "Avenue C" or the high-register right-hand rag on "Skin the Cat," the bandleader never fails to dazzle. As for the content of the album, it's far from a by-the-numbers, single-mode affair. The orchestra covers the gamut, from Fats Domino-recalling blues nostalgia on "Well Alright," and freight train boogie on "Jump for Joy," to the funky, big-band ska of "I'm in a Dancing Mood," which whirls and swings like UB40 on acid and boasts one sweet trombone solo. To call The Swing Album a romp would be a great understatement. Put it on at your next party, sit back and watch the bodies fly across your dance floor.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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